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Google Launches SMS Search Service 239

jSpectre writes "Google's been busy introducing a lot of new things this week. The latest, a SMS search service. SMS a message to 46645 (googl) and find local business listings, product prices, dictionary definitions, and more. Go Google!"
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Google Launches SMS Search Service

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:21PM (#10465435)
    But it's a search VIA SMS, which makes a lot more sense.
  • woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by NightDragon ( 732139 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:21PM (#10465436)
    Yes, now i can search for pictures of naked women ANYWHERE!
  • by Amiga Lover ( 708890 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:22PM (#10465441)
    The latest, a SMS search service. SMS a message to 46645 (googl) and find local business listings, product prices, dictionary definitions, and more. Go Google!"

    If google were 1337, their sms number would be 600613.
  • by no reason to be here ( 218628 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:24PM (#10465457) Homepage
    whr can i g3t sum t13 f00d?
  • by Negadin ( 261695 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:25PM (#10465460)
    This (or something like this) may be huge as people become more dependant on their mobile phones.

    No one wants to navigate some funky mobile web page looking for things like numbers, addresses or other things. People want instant information easily.

    SMS is pretty easy to understand - send a message and interpet the results. No clunky (and inconsistant) navigation problems.

    Heck - mobile mfg's (or OS designers) could put a search service into their phone that could utilize google's offerings automatically.
  • It told me to send it "help" if I needed, er, help. You might find this information useful.
    • by ornil ( 33732 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:46PM (#10465660)
      One thing that's missing is the ability to find where you are. So you actually have to tell it your address. However, the phone company obviously knows where you are, and I personally wouldn't mind if it communicated this information to Google upon my request.

      For those concerned about privacy, I'd simply make it opt-in, i.e. phone company messages you the first time you do this, and asks to reply if you want to enable Google/some other guy (identified by their phone number) to see this information.
      The phone company then always attaches your address when you message this number.
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:25PM (#10465466) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure Google will be able to handle it. But I wonder what Verizon & co will think about the sudden spike in SMS activity?

    Probably, they'll be thinking about the 12c they're getting from me for each one -- 10 for the outgoing, 2 for the incoming. Crap. Well, it's better than the $1.50 (or so) every time my wife decides to call 411. Drives me nuts when she does that...
    • by bunyip ( 17018 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:30PM (#10465511)
      Probably, they'll be thinking about the 12c they're getting from me for each one -- 10 for the outgoing, 2 for the incoming. Crap. Well, it's better than the $1.50 (or so) every time my wife decides to call 411. Drives me nuts when she does that...

      Very interesting. Could Google have partnered with the phone company to get their slice of your 12 cents? Anybody know of other companies that moght have already offered services like this?

      • SMS:es are sent using signaling, rather than over a dedicated communications channel, like voice and data.
        Thus there is very little overhead and theres no real limit of the number of messages that can be sent simultaneously (like there is for voice/data channels), and thats also why there's a 160 char limit.
    • by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:42PM (#10465633)
      I have signed up with a website that provides SMS messages with traffic updates. Since I have a long commute, it's handy to get notification that a major accident has occurred on my route home, so I can work around it. However, my (former) wireless provider--the always wonderful AT&T Wireless--decided that these SMS messages were spam, assumably because of the volume. They now block the IP address that the website is sending the messages from, despite the company's repeated attempts to correct the situation and many customer complaints. We'll see how they respond to this new spike in usage.
  • by saddino ( 183491 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:27PM (#10465488)
    Google is clearly aiming to be the information center for the connected/wired world, which makes perfect sense: after realizing that Google's value is its sheer amount of content, any service that brings people to that content is going to be pursued.

    I bet, eBay and Amazon, with similar giant demographic and e-commerce content won't be too far behind (e.g. the "price check" feature is tailor made for Amazon).

    • by Fortress ( 763470 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:54PM (#10465736) Homepage

      Google is clearly aiming to be the information center for the connected/wired world

      How long until we all complain about Google's monopoly of the Internet?

      I like Google, but it's now a publicly held company, meaning it's responsibilities are now to the shareholders. I fear that Google will be taken over by suits who want to use all of Google's information and influence for insidious purposes. It may be only a matter of time before the corporate culture changes from "Do no evil" to "Do what's profitable and hide it if it's evil."

    • And they still have a lot more to do with their data, for exmaple, I would like to know who are linking the page I am visiting, this is ideal for google toolbar or who is linking certain website, which is ideal for the search interface. And google could find dead links in a website simply by compare their database. They could replace your 404 pages with their cache, if there were something but don't exist anymore. And google could also easily find secret pages linked from outside but not reachable via index

  • Ubiquitous Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:29PM (#10465504) Journal
    Google seems to be entering just about every area.

    Maybe their idea is to make sure that they are well established in several areas in a way that they are indispensable - the best search engine, good e-mail service, business tools and what not.

    That way, even if Google did risk crashing down, or if something did happen, people would like not that happening. That, and the benign image they portray, may work to their favour.

    I'm talking through my hat, ofcourse.
  • by Lifix ( 791281 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:34PM (#10465555) Homepage
    So, google is branching out of the internet and into phones... well this certainly seems like a great idea. No one wants to spend the time to load up a web browser and web pages. This would make it alot easier to get google on phones, and this introduces google onto phones that can't get on the web, but can get sms's.

  • More sms goodness (Score:3, Informative)

    by Greg@RageNet ( 39860 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:34PM (#10465560) Homepage
    I've been playing around with SMS services for a while, since it's a great way to get information out to folks without them carrying any extra devices (everyone has cellphones now). I created a tool to send traffic reports via SMS for Californians, KnowTraffic [] and it'll even give you stock quotes if you send a message 'quote TICKER'. SMS is pretty powerful stuff that hasn't really been exploited much in the US yet.

    -- Greg

  • Free? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gaima ( 174551 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:37PM (#10465586)
    With Google becoming a "proper business" now I'm actually quite amazed they're not charging for this. I would.
    I know it doesn't cost them much, you pay for the outgoing and incoming messages after all, but would you miss the cost of one extra message per search? Ignoring special deals, and inter-network rates, that's about 12p in the UK.
    Could probably even generate a higher per search revenue stream than the ads.
    Seems like a natural, and non-evil, way to make some money to me...
    • In the US we generally pay for both outgoing and incoming messages (though my us message rate is less than half my uk rate, even though both are tmobile).

      Google may have been able to cut a deal with the providers since they make money from the subscriber when the messages come each way.
    • Re:Free? (Score:4, Informative)

      by seizer ( 16950 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:48PM (#10465687) Homepage
      Not sure how the charging structure works in the USA, but most GSM networks in the world charge a fixed termination fee for an SMS message entering their network (all UK networks have agreed on 3p, which is why you can't get a better rate (or if you can, it'll be a loss leader).

      With high traffic numbers, you can usually arrange a profit sharing deal with the provider of your services, so if Google's smart (and they are) they'll figure out a way to take a cut of the revenue. That's how the UK's "free" ISPs took off - Freeserve and the like simply said "we will generate X million minutes of phone calls a month, who'll give us a cut".
      • I use AT&T Wireless over here in the States. We pay $.10 per outgoing message (although you can pay a certain amount monthly to get a better deal), but all incoming messages are completely free. You can also send email to, or something like that, and it goes right through to the person's phone as SMS.

        Now, I tested Google's thing a little bit ago, and the reply message came from 46645, and I'm sure they have to pay a certain amount just to have that short number. Maybe they've got a dea
    • Like many Google technologies, they'll probably put it out there to see if it sticks before thinking about making money from it. That's pretty much what's happened with Google News, Orkut, Gmail, etc.

      And even if they never charge for it, they're reinforcing the notion of Google as the search king, which keeps people coming to

    • Well, they've got a five digit number, which means they're partnered with the providers. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they're getting a cut...
    • Re:Free? (Score:2, Insightful)

      One of the reasons google is the internet search god is precisely because they offer so much truely useful functionality for free to the user. If they charged for this, yes, they would make money off of it. Will it ever become a killer cellphone app if they do charge for it? No, I don't believe so. The true value of providing this service is to drive the word google that much deeper into the minds of the users. Providing so many awesome services to people for free also builds customer loyalty, somethin
  • by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:38PM (#10465592) Homepage
    Google learned from Netscape's mistakes and instead of going to the government crying about MSN is constantly working on beating Microsoft to new markets in aways that tie the new markets back to Google's old original base. Knowing how competitive Google is, one would think that Microsoft, which talked about buying them out or competing directly against them, would just accept Google's existance and work with them to save money. At the rate Google is going, it'll probably be the one battle that Microsoft can't win.
  • So much for 411. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3ity ( 800597 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:39PM (#10465604)
    Looks like 411 just got outdated. Now I can get a phone number and address for anyone via SMS. And a text message costs what? less than 5 cents? vs a 2 dollar call to information?
  • by 88NoSoup4U88 ( 721233 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:41PM (#10465627)
    *eyes on watch*

    "I think it's time for Google to go evil in 3...2...1..."

  • by brendanoconnor ( 584099 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:49PM (#10465691)
    I do not use my cellphone for much of anything except receiving calls and calling out. Does sending and receiving an sms cost money? If so that could add up. I mean, when I search google, sometimes I do not pick the right wording, and I get bad results, whilst other times I pick the right wording. A bad series of wording could cost me several out goings, and maybe since data has to be transmitted back, some incomings as well.

    Correct me if I am wrong but this sounds like a good way nickel and dime the SMS users. Although they did send it. Oh well.

    • well, a lot of phone companies allow you to buy blocks of text messages. Right now I buy 300 msgs a month for $2.99. T-Mobile now has a deal of $9.99 a month for unlimited texts, and I'm thinking of upgrading. Also consider that I know a lot of cell companies do this, I dont know the exact prices..., but 411 with T-Mobile costs $.75 a shot. Thats a lot and those people always shoot me to the wrong number. Here I can pay 5 cents if I have to and get a list to pick from. Thats spiffy in my book.
      • Right now I buy 300 msgs a month for $2.99. T-Mobile now has a deal of $9.99 a month for unlimited texts

        At $3 for each 300 msgs (I'm assuming this isn't only for the first 300), you could buy 900 for $9. So does the fact that you are instead spending $10 for unlimited messages really mean that you're going to use more than 900 a month?! That's 30 a day. There are people who really use that much?
    • Depends on the provider. AT&T Wireless charges $.10 for each outgoing (unless you buy a plan that includes a certain amount), but all incoming are free.
  • If I use this service will the *collect* my number and start spamming me? If not now when? I really like the idea, but will they use that *you have personal business with me, so I can nag you at dinner* crap that credit card companies use to call you even though you're on the no call list.

    Upset would be an understatement if I started getting spam SMS messages.
    • Add yourself (if you haven't already) to 'do not call' list. Also, I think telemarketers could not call on mobile phones even before that list anyway.
    • by SlyDe ( 247694 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @08:00PM (#10465769)
      (Ok, I know, shameless karma whoring....) []

      Information that we collect and how we use it

      When you send a message to Google SMS, we log an encrypted version of the incoming phone number, the wireless carrier associated with the number, and the date and time of the transaction. We use this data to analyze the message traffic in order to operate, develop and improve our services. Google will never rent or sell your phone number to any third party, nor will we use your phone number to initiate a call or SMS message to you without your permission. Your wireless carrier and other service providers also collect data about your SMS usage, and their practices are governed by their own privacy policies.

  • by ewg ( 158266 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @07:56PM (#10465750)
    Froogle price checks are the killer app here.

    Standing in the middle of a retail store, you can gauge pricing versus online retailers.

    Somewhere, Alan Greenspan is smiling.
  • This is awesome. Bravo.
  • by fawlty154 ( 814393 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @08:13PM (#10465882)
    Google labs [] shows all kinds of interesting stuff Google is cooking up.
  • I know Google is US-based, but given the relative popularity of mobile phones (cell phones to you Americans) in Europe - especially the popularity of SMS (Almost 1 billion a month sent in the UK alone) - would it not have made sense to at least include Europe in the initial roll-out, if not focus the service there entirely?
    • "popularity of mobile phones (cell phones to you Americans)"

      Yes we call them that here as well.

      "would it not have made sense to at least include Europe in the initial roll-out, if not focus the service there entirely?"

      Not if they are testing out the service first and why would they focus the service for Europe only?

      "4. Does Google SMS work everywhere? Can I find pizza restaurants in Palermo?

      Right now, Google SMS only works in the U.S. We're working hard to make it available when and wherever you're on
  • I tried using that shortcode, but my phone says 'invalid address.' Wazzup?
  • I sent the message "define hello" and got the following response in two seperate messages:

    "(1of2)Glossary * Hello: Help me please Here Holy man Hot Hotel
    How are you? How much is it? Ahlan Aounni affak Hna Shaikh Skhoun Hamy Funak Labass Alek"

    "(2of2)Bshhall Yisswa hada"

    No Joke
  • Is this accessible outside of the US ?
  • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @08:44PM (#10466076) Homepage
    ...or will they just become fastest googler contests?
  • Wow. Works well (Score:3, Informative)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @08:45PM (#10466085) Journal
    I have unlimited text messages - so I sent a few. Worked EXACTLY as I would expect.

    Woah. I'll be using this one...


  • by rafikki ( 818387 ) * on Thursday October 07, 2004 @08:45PM (#10466087)
    What do you think the odds are of some cell phones makers starting to introduce a simplified interface for this? That might be a possibility for Google to make some money, partnering with makers to slap the Goole trademark on their phones. Normally someone might have to pay to put their label or trademark on someone else's product, but with Google's name-brand recognition...
  • AirFlash [] and Viag Interkom [] did this in 2001 ... and Orange UK [] did it in May. Perhaps the technology is finally Ready for Prime Time?
  • Flight information (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DarthBart ( 640519 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @09:24PM (#10466322)
    Can't wait till they get real time flight information into it. Nothing like being able to SMS "COA123" and get the flight's location and ETA based on what's coming in from the FAA data feeds.
  • by Dr. Mortimer ( 461903 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @10:22PM (#10466626) Homepage
    I noticed that I got no result replies on my Verizon phone when I searched for "pizza 60603". I called Verizon and spoke with a lead SMS/data tech to ask why it didn't work. They said that they do not support this and that they would not unless they entered into some sort of formal contract with Google. My big question is: what does it take for Verizon to actually give something useful to its users for no extra charge?!
  • Pizza in Canada! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Equis ( 723653 )
    I typed in "pizza 48201" to find the Domino's around the corner here in Detroit. It gave me three results in WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA.

    I wonder if they deliver...
  • SMS Alerts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by manmanic ( 662850 ) on Friday October 08, 2004 @01:18AM (#10467327)
    Seems like an obvious crossover to me... Google could combine this kind of SMS service with the search alerting concept [] to provide regular alerts of information that would be useful on a cellphone - price reductions, new shops opening - and I'm sure later on there will be traffic, weather, etc...
  • This is close, but I think still no one has implemented the service I was proposing a couple of years ago - a SMS dictionary service.

    Imagine: you're sitting reading in a park, want a good definition of a word so you type it into your phone and get back instantly the OED definition.

    Call me a geek, but I'd pay for that...

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.